Officials and relatives of victims said a limousine carrying four sisters, relatives and other friends at a birthday party blew through a stop sign and collided with a four-wheel drive parked outside a store in upstate New York, killing 18 limousines and two pedestrians.
Authorities described the accident as the deadliest transportation accident in the United States in nearly a decade. The accident turned into horror in a rural area popular with tourists who watch the leaves in the area. Relatives said that the limousine was taking the sisters and their friends to celebrate their 30th birthday for the youngest.
“They were amazing girls,” their Aunt Barbara Douglas told reporters. “They would do anything for you and were very close to each other and loved their families.”
Douglas said three of the sisters have been with their husbands and she identifies them as Amy, Axel Stenburg, Abigail, Adam Jackson, Mary, Rob Dyson and Alison King.
“They did the responsible thing of getting a limousine so that they don’t have to drive anywhere,” she said, adding that the couples have many children who have left at home.
A 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest of Route 30 in Schoharie, about 270 kilometers north of New York City, when it failed to stop at 2 p.m. Christopher Fury, senior deputy state police chief, told a news conference in Latham, New York, at intersection T with Route 30A, the state.
It passed across the road and collided with an unmanned SUV parked at the Apple Barrel Country Store, killing the limousine driver and 17 passengers and two people outside the vehicle.
Linda Riley, from nearby Schenectady, who was on a shopping trip with her sisters, said the accident “looked like an explosion.” She was in another car parked in the store, and she saw a dead body on the ground and heard people start screaming.